Of the many lessons that I have learned from The Legend of Zelda, and life as a whole, none have been more significant than the message that no one is more dangerous than a person who doesn’t care. There is The Joker from Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight film that cannot be bought, swayed or manipulated because he simply doesn’t care. What remains of his life is just a wild ride.
There is Shakespeare’s Macbeth who, to an extent, becomes reckless and careless once his wife passes away and his schemes fall apart. He hopelessly fights on, not caring who he kills or even who kills him. Within The Legend of Zelda series we witness Ganondorf, Skull Kid and even Link losing touch with humanity, which carries the powerful message to never stop caring; to never stop feeling; to never stop embracing the emotions that make you human.
All of these characters lose touch with the world and people around them. Due to painful experiences they shut out everything in an attempt to feel nothing. This lack of human emotion makes them irrational and dangerous. There is no telling what they might do and even they are not in control of their behavior. To them, there is seemingly nothing positive left in the world so they merely want to watch it burn.
Interestingly, there is a very fine line between not caring and having once cared too much. Nolan’s Joker once had a wife before becoming the tormentor of Gotham City that he is. Macbeth’s deterioration comes after his wife’s demise. When people care so much about something it becomes extremely painful, especially to lose. It is this that causes characters in The Legend of Zelda to become distant from the world.
The series’ antagonist, Ganondorf, has often been portrayed as solely evil for the sake of evil, but that it to overlook the full story. The Wind Waker tells of the man from the desert that simply desired a better life for his people, the Gerudo. He coveted the green and lush lands of Hyrule that didn’t come with harsh winds and death. Before the reckless rampaging pig-monster Ganon there was once a man who cared.
As a Gerudo, Ganondorf learnt thievery as a method of survival, and so through an attempted robbery of the Triforce he hoped to satisfy his people. However, there were stronger forces at work. His heart lusted power, and partly through the curse laid down by Demise in Skyward Sword, he became an incarnation of hate.
Instead of providing his people with the good life Ganondorf becomes focused on causing misery to everyone and casting the world into darkness. That is merely what drives him forward. Human emotion is beyond him. Success or failure, he cares not. His purpose is to follow the Hero and the Princess to exact Demise’s curse.
Ganondorf is a dangerous man, but he is not the only character who loses touch with humanity. In Majora’s Mask the Skull Kid believes that his four Giant friends have abandoned him, and so he lashes out at the world around him until he is eventually banished from it. Experiencing the overwhelming pain of loss and banishment, the Skull Kid suppresses his emotions.
He becomes dangerous and reckless. He steals Majora’s Mask from the Happy Mask Salesman and becomes consumed by its hate and malice for Termina. Like Ganondorf, his prior painful emotions are too much to bear and so he stops feeling anything. He hides the fact that he once cared behind a mask of terror and torment.
Ganondorf and Skull Kid become two of the most dangerous individuals in the series, and it happens once they are so far gone from their human emotions. Link also goes through a similar experience in Majora’s Mask as he rides off abandoning his friends in Hyrule merely because of his loss of Navi. It is through witnessing the story of the Skull Kid that Link is also able to avoid becoming cold and hard to the world around him because of his loss.
When I reflect on The Legend of Zelda I get the message of never relinquishing what it is to be human. Don’t allow yourself to not feel, because even when devastatingly hurt like the Skull Kid, it is better to feel something than to feel nothing. It is better to portray emotion than to put on a mask of terror to hide yourself.
Although Ganondorf is too far-gone, the Skull Kid is the example that there is a chance to turn back. There is a chance to care again, to love again and to be human again. Even though caring hurts so much, it is worth it. The very point that Nolan’s Joker proves with Harvey “Two Face” Dent is that through loss even the best of us can became cold and dangerous. Chance becomes the only rationale in a cruel world.
The Legend of Zelda tells the story of a Harvey Dent who manages to redeem himself through the Skull Kid. It reminds us how dangerous letting go of human emotion can make us, but it also cautions on balance; for the very cause of not caring is having been utterly dependent in the past. We must be content within ourselves because otherwise when we lose our four Giant friends or our Navi we will become a danger to those around us.